Premiership Rugby’s CEO has emphasized the significance of limiting the number of overseas players in the England team

Simon Massie-Taylor, the CEO of Premiership Rugby, has emphasized the significance of maintaining the regulations that prohibit England from selecting players based overseas.

The policy has caused a few English internationals to transfer to France following the World Cup this year, making them ineligible for the 2024 Six Nations. Despite suggestions to ease the policy, Massie-Taylor stressed that it remains crucial for English rugby.

“We need to keep the talent within our system,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It has always been the desire, certainly from the Premiership side of things, to have the talent there to help grow the league, but from an England point of view it allows them more access and more time to train with England within club time.

“That doesn’t happen if a player is playing abroad in a different league, so you have an access issue which affects England performance.”

The RFU says players based outside the English top flight can only be picked in exceptional circumstances.

In response to calls from the Rugby Players’ Association to temporarily lift restrictions on overseas-based players for England, Premiership Rugby CEO Simon Massie-Taylor has stated that it is important to maintain the rules in place. Despite a lowered salary cap, which has led some players to move to France after the World Cup, Massie-Taylor believes the financial gap between the Premiership and France’s Top 14 is not as wide as some suggest.

“There has always been a gap between what our clubs spend and what is spent in France,” Premiership Rugby’s chief executive said.

“That gap got wider during the Covid period but will narrow again when the salary cap goes back up in 2024-2025.

“But coupled with that – and we have looked into this in a bit more detail – the average salaries across the league are comparable, but also if you look at the top talent as well – the top 10, 20, 30, 40 [players], they are comparable as well.

“Now there will always be opportunities for players to find a better paid job abroad or in another system. But we are still relatively competitive at the moment and as I say that gap [with France] will narrow further in a few years.”

According to Massie-Taylor, there are a few problems with certain clubs retaining talent, as demonstrated by Exeter losing about 20 players at the end of the season, including England players such as Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Although the Chiefs had signed several players on three-year contracts in 2020, those deals are now coming to an end. However, Massie-Taylor highlights that there are also high-profile players who will either enter or remain in the league next season.

“What we are seeing is the maturation of these contracts that had been signed during the Covid period reach a pinch-point before the salary cap goes back and so it has created a few issues within clubs,” he said.

“Now I would say on the flip side we have Zach Mercer coming back into the system who is the Top 14 player of the year last season, we’ve got Finn Russell coming into the system, with Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes signed up over the weekend.

“So we are not seeing an exodus here.”